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This website is intended to help you work through your IAT 103W research assignments.
Workshop Activity Quick Links:
Steven Marche article: "Is Facebook making us lonely?"
Eric Klinenberg article: "Facebook isn't making us lonely"
We're here to help!
Understanding your topic with background reading
Using subject specific encyclopedias (just about one topic, rather than general encyclopedias that cover many topics), you can often find comprehensive summaries of your topic. This often gives you a good foundation from which to do further research, which can be hard to find elsewhere.
The reference books that are useful to you will depend on your subject area. Here are some online reference books that might include background information on your topic:
- Gale Virtual Reference Library (a large collection of reference books in many subject areas, including science and technology)
- Sage Knowledge (collection of many encyclopedias related to the social sciences)
- Encyclopaedia Britannica online
- Encyclopedia of science, technology, and ethics (4 volumes)
- The Internet Encyclopedia [online A-F | G-O | P-Z or print]
- Ethical and Social Issues in the Information Age
- Encyclopedia of New Media
If you're using Wikipedia for background reading, be cautious of its reliability. Confirm the information against other sources, as anyone can change Wikipedia articles at any time (example). However, the references section of Wikipedia articles can be useful; also the links section.
Finding books and articles
Books tend to give you a better overview of topics, as well as including more specific information. Articles are generally more specific than books and tend to focus on a certain aspect of a topic.
Use the SFU Library Catalogue to search for books & articles at the same time. After your initial search, you can use the left side of the screen to limit your results by format, date, location, and so on. However, at the moment the catalogue does not search through all of the Library's online and print journal articles, so you will want to use other resources (such as subject-specific databases) as well.
Databases can be multidisciplinary or subject-specific (i.e. science, history, etc.). To find out which ones would be best to search in, use the "Browse databases by subject area" dropdown menu on the databases page. Searching more than one database is a good idea, as they often contain citations to different articles.
Here's a list of databases you could try for your assignment:
Academic Search Complete
Includes articles from a range of academic journals and popular magazines. Covers a broad range of topics.
Academic content (articles, book chapters, etc.) related to the study of society.
Web of Science
Articles from scholarly journals in scientific fields.
Humanities and Social Sciences Index
Includes articles from a wide range of academic journals in the social sciences and humanities. Good for almost any topic.
Articles from scholarly journals and popular magazines on a wide range of science topics.
Articles from Canadian sources, including some scholarly journals, business magazines, and popular news magazines and newspapers. Good for learning about the 'Canadian' angle to any question.
Google Scholar enables you to search for scholarly literature, from broad areas of research though mostly in the science and technology fields. Searching is not as focused as in the other article databases.
Scholarly articles from psychology journals. Good for any topic with a psychology angle.
Communication & Mass Media Complete
Scholarly journal articles from the fields of communications, mass media, linguistics and film.
Design and Applied Arts Index
Covers designers and the development of design and the applied arts
Education and education-related journal articles.
ACM Digital Library
Academic articles from the Association for Computing Machinery. Mostly "hard-core" computer science, but some material on computing & society.
Business Source Complete
Articles from over 3700 business journals in all business areas, at least 1000 of which are scholarly/peer-reviewed.
Scholarly and popular articles on a wide range of health topics.
Evaluating your sources
It is important to understand the differences in the types of publications you will encounter. Often popular science magazines summarize recent reports from the primary scholarly literature for the general public. Scholarly publications report on new research or ideas and are used for scholarly communication. Each of these types of publications can be found in print and on the web.
See SFU Library's What is a scholarly (or peer-reviewed) journal? guide to help you distinguish between popular magazines, scholarly journals, and trade publications. For a more detailed overview of the peer review process, see the Library's What is a peer-reviewed journal? FAQ.
To help you evaluate information you find on the internet, see SFU Library's guide to Finding and evaluating resources on the web.
Help with writing your paper
The Student Learning Commons has peer tutors available to help with writing your paper. You can either drop-in or make an appointment, and it's located inside Fraser Library (Surrey), in the Yosef Wosk Student Learning Commons.
Using APA to cite your sources
It's important to cite your sources, so that:
- Your reader can locate the sources you used for your paper
- To give credit to the people whose research and ideas you used in your paper
APA style guides:
- APA style guide (SFU Library)
- Citing images (SFU Library)
- Specialist guides: How to cite Instagram (APA Style Blog) | How to cite Social Media (APA Style Blog) | Citing a Screenshot (MacOdrum Library - Carleton)
Information about plagiarism and how to avoid it
- Plagiarism - Find out about plagiarism and learn techniques for avoiding it.
- Take the SFU Library interactive tutorial Understanding and Avoiding Plagiarism to test yourself and to learn more about plagiarism.
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